CT Moore has recently been writing about the concepts of transparency and trust on the Internet, and he says in his post What Would Donald Draper Blog? that building your personal brand is not about sharing everything. He notes that Don Draper “wouldn’t talk about his personal life or what he likes doing on the weekend. And he definitely wouldn’t gossip. Neither of these would do anything to help him fill the demand of his audience.” Indeed, being personal or authentic isn’t the same as being transparent. In fact, he argues that Don Draper wouldn’t be transparent at all, because his personality is actually a brand he has built to hide his true identity, Dick Whitman.
So what does this have to do with me, Laura Roberts, the person, or the “brand”? Do I even have a brand? To some extent, yes, I have several. I’m the face of Black Heart Magazine. I’m V for Vixen. But here, on my personal website, I’m Laura Roberts, Writer. And that brand needs developing.
How does one develop a writer brand? By writing, of course. But also by writing about writing. Not to the extent that your writing is overshadowed by talk about the writing process, but enough that it helps you to clarify your own thoughts on that process and how to move through it.
The other day I wrote a blog about How to Get Published. I was tired of people asking me the same old questions, of coming to me for advice that they won’t even take, of pumping me for information that is freely available. But you know what? The fact is, that information is freely available, so what does it matter if they want to get it from me instead of from Google? It’s already free, and it doesn’t damage me in any way to share what is already known and available. In fact, it may even increase the trust people have in my writer brand, so why not do it?
Should I charge for these pearls of wisdom? If I can, yes, that would be great. But if someone asks me for an opinion, or advice, why should I be stingy, or tell them I’m not going to give them the information they’re looking for unless they pay me for my time? The information is already out there. The fact that I will pass it along for free can really only make me look good. It’s something for you, and something for me. No money needs to exchange hands.
So yes, I can answer your questions about writing. I can share a few “secrets.” And I can keep a few to myself, too. But blogging—and writing in general—is about setting people free and giving everything you’ve got to the page (or the screen). To quote Anaïs Nin:
“To write means to give all. No witholding is possible. The best writers are those who give all. However, there is the choice of clothing: fiction, symbolism, poetry, etc.”
In the end, I subscribe more to the Anaïs Nin school of writing everything and choosing the veils through which things are presented than the Don Draper method of building mysteries from the ground up, though each has its value in different situations. Here, as my writer self, I choose not to withold anything, whether we’re talking about writing, art, sex, life, the universe, or anything else. That authenticity is important, even if transparency isn’t.
Which type of blogger are you: Don Draper or Anaïs Nin… or someone else entirely?